Francesca Dickinson, Bronfman Family Office

Francesca Dickinson from the Bronfman Family Office where she is responsible for the origination of structured equity transactions in Europe. Previously, Francesca was at LDC, where she worked in the Value Enhancement Team, and at Lloyds Banking Group within the Financial Institution division focusing on debt financing transactions.

Bailey Fisher hosted dinner & discussion for owners and leaders of privately owned companies focusing on Growing your business with an exit strategy.  Our guest speaker, Rodney Appiah of Foresight Group, gave an insightful, candid view of what private equity investors look for in a business and, post-investment, what the relationship between the company and its new investors might look like.

Rodney talked about the importance of building long-term shareholder value; the benefits of a strong, motivated senior leadership team and offering something to your customer that is both different, and defensible. He quoted Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it…” 

There was much discussion around exit options, with trade sale, MBO/MBI and equity release enjoying plenty of airtime, and inviting debate from various guests as to which route was more appropriate in their situation.  Perhaps most interesting of all, Rodney talked through various case studies post-investment, leading to exchange of views on how to ensure that investor and shareholders remain aligned, the right talent is used to supplement and support existing management, relationships are managed and exit strategies are fully understood.

The dinner was hosted by Andrew Moore, Managing Director of Bailey Fisher, in association with Farrer & Co and PwC.   The dinner took place at Downing College, Cambridge as part of Bailey Fisher’s Leadership Series and was attended by owners and leaders of businesses including Aspall, Plextek, Go Ape, Amina Technologies, Howard Group, Pinkster Gin, Sydney Hart, Wren Investment Office and Hoare & Co.

Barry is Chairman of Aspall, the historic cyder making business that has flourished since 1728.  Barry spoke about taking a family business through acquisition, drawing on his experiences with preparing Aspall for acquisition by Molson Coors.

Toby Young, Head of Technology Practice, was pleased to host Bailey Fisher’s recent Technology Leadership Dinner for high-growth CXOs and investors, focusing on talent and growth.

Toby welcomed Michelle Coventry, VP People at FiveAI and Talent Adviser at Kindred Capital, who kicked off a fascinating discussion on how to build a team.  Discussion focused on the importance of engaging all members of your team in the hiring process.  It is vital that they recognise the importance of their role in the process, and are given training on how to interview.

Much of the hiring agenda inevitably stems from the CEO, particularly in a start-up, but the importance of having a senior individual in the business from an early stage to focus on hiring can’t be overstated.

Hiring is only the first step in growing and nurturing a successful team, and talk turned to the importance of talent retention and development, and the role that company culture plays in this.

Recently there has been a step change in how talent acquisition and retention is viewed in the sector.  Previously often written off as just the concern of HR, there is now recognition that it is integral to the success of the business.  In Toby’s view “You should be giving the hiring of talent as much importance as raising money, if not more so.”   

Thank you to Michelle for her insight and to our event partners, Zickie Lim at Mills & Reeve and Paul Naylor at Grant Thornton.

Our next Tech Leadership Dinner takes place in London on 19 June.

Our topic for the evening is Talent & Growth and we will be joined by a group of experts to play a part in discussion around the table including the VP Talent at Thought Machine; and VP People at Five AI & Talent Advisor to Kindred Capital’s portfolio founders.  The dinner will be attended by CEOs and other C-suite leaders of innovative growth technology companies.

The Leadership Dinner is organised and hosted by Bailey Fisher in partnership with Mills & Reeve and Grant Thornton.

Attendance is by invitation.  If you would like to find out more about future events, please contact Kerry Linsey.



The latest event in our CFO Dinner series brings together CFOs of growth technology businesses for an informal peer-to-peer dinner and roundtable discussion focusing on the economy.  Our guest speaker is Paul Donovan, Chief Economist of UBS Global Wealth Management, the wealth management arm of Swiss-based global financial services group UBS.  Paul is responsible for developing and presenting the UBS economic outlook, and communicating the UBS view on economics, policy and politics around the world.  Paul has co-authored two books on environmental economics, and is regularly interviewed on economic issues in the print and broadcast media.

This event is hosted by Bailey Fisher in partnership with UBS.

Attendance at this event is by invitation. If you are interested in finding out more about this or future CFO Dinners, please contact Andrew Moore, Managing Director or Helen Poole, Director of Marketing & Events at Bailey Fisher Executive Search.

Bailey Fisher’s Life Sciences & Health Technology events are content-rich, peer-to-peer discussion forums for senior sector leaders and investors hosted by Iain Hopper, Director of Life Sciences & Health Technology at Bailey Fisher.

Our latest event took place in Cambridge.  Iain welcomed Founders & C-suite leaders from growth companies across Life Sciences & Health Technology to discuss the benefits of accelerators for business success.  The dinner was hosted in partnership with Nooman Haque, MD of Life Sciences at Silicon Valley Bank and Adrian Rainey, Partner at Taylor Wessing.  We enjoyed hearing from Karolina Zapadka in relation to Accelerate@Babraham, Jason Mellad discussing Start Codon and Nate Mayfield providing fantastic insight into Illumina’s accelerator model and exciting plans for expansion. There was a real energy in the room and a great atmosphere which was very pleasing to see.

Highlights from discussion included:

  • Are UK founders, companies, or even the wider ecosystem ambitious enough? How do you balance ambition with the need to be cautious and deliberate in healthcare?
  • How do we address the scale-up challenge and foster an ecosystem focused on creating £1bn companies
  • How do we recreate the “bottom up” enthusiasm for entrepreneurship that is so prevalent and infectious on the west coast of the US?
  • What happens post-accelerator? Are we developing the companies with full foresight of the road and challenges ahead, e.g. will they be able to raise the VC round?
  • Whilst funding is important, Founders and business leaders are crying out for guidance and mentorship from experienced business leaders on the practicalities of how to run and scale a business
  • How do we better promote entrepreneurialism and communicate business acumen to scientists and academics?

The dinner took place in Cambridge as part of our Leadership Series for Founders & C-suite leaders.  If you are interested in finding out more about future Life Sciences Leadership events, please contact Iain Hopper, Director of Life Sciences & Health Technology at Bailey Fisher.

Bailey Fisher & SOLDO welcomed CFOs from some of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies to the latest in our series of Finance Leadership Dinners in London.  Together with guest speakers, Darren Upson from Soldo, Craig Fox from Silicon Valley Bank and Mark Ashworth from Oracle, we enjoyed a roundtable discussion focused on the disruptive technologies available to today’s CFO and how they can be harnessed to automate processes, save time and provide higher quality data.

There were numerous & varied opinions from around the table and, with such a vast array of technology available, it’s clear that choosing the right software at the right stage of growth is critical to how beneficial it may prove to be.

The increased options of platforms and apps are seen by some as an agile way of supplementing core accounting systems, whilst others preferred to utilise more traditional options.

What remains crucial is that the skills and experience of a CFO cannot be replaced by technology alone. Combining automated reporting and technology with experience can reduce time spent on menial tasks and allow more time to be devoted to strategic decision making. A common theme amongst the group was the importance of hiring a strong Financial Controller to support and release the CFO from day-to-day tasks and make efficient use of all available resources.

Fintech products remain a disruptive and beneficial addition to the CFO’s toolkit, but should be seen as such, and not a replacement to the role.

Thanks to SOLDO, the multi-user expense account featuring Mastercard® cards, intuitive admin and effortless reporting, for supporting this event, and for the input from our expert speakers.

If you would like to find out more about future Leadership Dinners, please contact Kerry Linsey at Bailey Fisher.

The next Private Markets Dinner will take place at Downing College, Cambridge.  The event is hosted by Bailey Fisher Executive Search in partnership with Farrer & Co and PwC UK.  Attendance is by invitation for a select group of business leaders from amongst the region’s foremost private & family owned businesses.

The topic for discussion is “Growing your Business with an Exit Strategy: An Investor’s Perspective”.  Our guest speaker for the evening is Rodney Appiah, Director of Foresight Group, a leading, independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager with over £2.9 billion of current assets under management.  Foresight Private Equity is one of the UK’s leading and longest established investors in growing businesses, investing between £1m-£5m to support MBOs/MBIs, growth capital and equity release.

If you are a owner or manager of a family business interested in finding out more about the Private Markets Dinners, please contact Andrew Moore.

Hosted in partnership with:


Bailey Fisher was pleased to welcome 50 business leaders to Growing Global, a Women 4 Technology event during London Tech Week. Co-hosted with Frog Capital, the event covered expansion into international markets with a focus on the US and China.  Guest speakers were Tugce Bulut, Founder/CEO of Streetbees, a market research platform for global brands that has expanded to 87 countries over the past year; Mariana Pereira, Director of world-leading cyber security company Darktrace; Pru Ashby, Head of North America for London & Partners; Jane Cooke, a key member of the leadership team that grew Abcam from Cambridge University spin-out to a team of over 1,000 globally; and Ting Zhang, a leading expert on doing business in China, as Founder/CEO of China Business Solutions and Co-founder of recently launched Crayfish International.

First to speak was Tugce Bulut of Streetbees, who shared insight into how she has grown her company so rapidly across the globe.    Streetbees harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and geolocation technology to access any consumer segment anywhere in the world, capture insights and provide results in real time.

“We developed a platform and launched in 2015. We give our clients a window into real people’s lives in real time.  Our first order was from Unilever, who wanted to know, can you do this in 20 countries?  Our business model had to be international. 

It is very important to have reliable people on the ground who understand the local context. Listen to them.  We were a 5 person team. 87 countries in 12 months. It was a lot of work!

What have we learned?  Think globally from day one.”

Mariana Pereira spoke about how Darktrace has grown rapidly to become the world’s leading machine learning company for cyber security, with a team of over 400 globally.  Founded in 2013 in Cambridge, the company is now headquartered in Cambridge and San Francisco.

“We have experienced 600% growth since last year, and the technology is currently deployed in 69 countries.  How have we grown so phenomenally?  We are agnostic in product design.  The technology could apply in any country. 

We approach cyber security in a fundamentally different way. Darktrace’s Enterprise Immune System mimics the human immune system. We recognise that defences will be breached or that insiders can sometimes cause a security concern, whether maliciously, or otherwise.  Darktrace is the first AI powered solution that can autonomously take action.”

Having been founded by mathematicians and machine learning experts from Cambridge University, together with intelligence experts from MI5 and GCHQ, Darktrace expanded rapidly to the US. The former CIO of the CIA is now a member of the Advisory Board, adding to Darktrace’s credibility in the US market.   “Within 6 months of founding, Darktrace had its first US customer.”  Mariana’s advice is to “design for growth.  Think of being global from day 1.  But, you can’t become an expert in every state, or every country.  Get experts on the ground.”

Pru Ashby spent 2 years heading up business development for London & Partners in New York, before returning to the UK, where she leads London & Partners’ North America inward investment team supporting & advising US and Canadian companies to set up and grow in London; and UK companies expanding into the North American market.  Pru shared advice for companies looking to expand in the US, focusing on three top tips:

  1. “There are 50 states in the US, but it is more like 50 countries. All are very different in culture. Lots of tech talent goes to San Francisco, but many choose to go to New York first. Skyscanner went to Miami for its first US office, as they wanted to be the hub for the Latin American market.  Each state will have incentives and support.  Find out which will suit your company.
  2. Be aware of the cultural differences in ways of doing business. You must be extremely confident. None of the British self-effacement.  The US is very transactional.  Your pitch needs to be highly pristine. Include data. Share where you will take your business – Americans make a decision on a vision.
  3. Where you can, get warm introductions. Use the support that is there.”

Pru then called on Melinda Nicci, serial entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of Baby2Body, a high-growth venture backed health tech start up.  Melinda shared a conversation that she’d had with a US investor about Baby2Body’s subscribers. “We have 350,000 subscribers.”  To which the investor responded “You mean you have half a million!”

Jane Cooke was employee number four at Abcam and spent more than a decade as part of the leadership team that grew the company to a global success with a team of over 1,000.  Jane shared lessons learned from her time as Director of People and Organisational Development, setting up the company’s facility in Shanghai.

“Right from the start Abcam was a disruptor.  We were selling on the internet, which was immediately a global market.  Previously in this sector, sales had all been via catalogue.   

There was a lot of discussion around how do we break into China?  We opened our Hong Kong office 8 years ago.  With hindsight, if you want to do business in China you need to be in China. 

Abcam then acquired an organisation that had its head office in the US but had a facility in China.  Overnight half our business was Chinese.  It was a challenge to integrate the culture and working practices.  Overnight the local company became international.  Employees immediately wanted all the benefits of being an international business, but without thinking about changes they needed to make themselves. 

The only way to manage the process was to live there. If you are going to do business in China, you really need to be there and embed yourself in, learn the culture and build the networks.”

Ting Zhang is Founder/CEO of China Business Solutions and Co-founder of Crayfish International, a software platform for UK SMEs looking to do business in China. Ting is a leading expert on doing business in China, with 20+ years advising companies from tech start ups to FTSE 100 companies.

“When I set up China Business Solutions, the feedback was ‘China? Nobody is interested in China.’  3 months later China entered the World Trade Organisation and suddenly it was ‘Ting, can you come and give a talk?’

Now China is doing business on the global stage, becoming the centre of international trade. Anyone interested in doing business internationally needs to look at China. 

To do this you need someone on the ground. You either need to be there yourself or hire someone.  On demand is the key for a smaller start-up company. China has different provinces and the laws are different in each.

China sees such fast changes. The learning process is ongoing. Even for me, Chinese and advising companies for 20 years, the change is so fast.”

Ting went on to talk about working with Chinese investors “Chinese investors will only look at return.  They will not look at vision, as in the US.”

This event was the latest in Bailey Fisher’s Women 4 Technology series for female founders, CEOs, CXOs, Chair/NEDs, VPs and investors.  The event was co-hosted with Frog Capital, and sponsored by Mills & Reeve and FieldHouse Associates.